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Carbon Sequestration



“Butterflies and Turtles”


Turtlehead is the host plant for Baltimore Checkerspot.  Both are quite rare now.  Sadly, the patch I used to visit has been obliterated.  I hate for my paintings to be memorials of past glories, instead of celebrations of thriving diversity of life.

So I’ve been listening to NPR again, and hearing some alarming things.  It seems some scientists are busy dreaming up crazy technological “solutions” for our little carbon problem.  One is to collect it somehow and inject it into the ground or deep under the sea.  Apparently there has been a test of this and guess what~ little creatures at the bottom of the sea die when we do that.  Other creatures, such as oysters, are experiencing reduced growth and thin shells from increased acidity in the ocean from rising levels of CO2, and some are dying outright.

Meanwhile, a trip through town reveals miles of grass and acres of asphalt.  It occurred to me that here could be a great opportunity.  Grass strips along our roadways is not  serving us for a few reasons.  For one thing, it has very shallow roots and so does virtually nothing toward absorbing either water or carbon.  Indeed, it must be irrigated to maintain its lush green growth.  Not only that, it requires chemicals to keep it growing and free of weeds.  To top it off, it then needs to be mown regularly, so there go the petroleum guzzling mowers!  What if we change our ideas of beauty, here.  What if shopping centers used locally native plants instead, to beautify their grounds?  Having adapted to local conditions, they require little or no care.  This could save municipalities a great deal of money, I would think.  In my area where prairies once grew, native plants sequester huge amounts of carbon in their roots.  Plus, those enormous root systems act like sponges, absorbing water from large storm events and keeping it out of sewage systems.  Just think of it…all those miles of sameness that currently suck up water, chemicals and money could instead be varied bands of lovely habitat.  Instead of toxic wastelands of uniformity, those strips of land along roads and parking lots all across our country could be helping us restore balance,  absorbing carbon.  Giving life, rather than taking it away.  Plus it is cheaper and simpler than a technology fix.

I think I’ll broach the subject with members of my county board.  Would anyone care to join me in tilting at this windmill?



8 thoughts on “Carbon Sequestration

  1. I like your idea. Here in Iowa we have the Living Roadway Trust Fund.
    The roadsides with these enhancements of wildflowers and native grasses are attractive and provide good environments for small animal life. We see signs near them that say No Mowing.

    1. That’s awesome, Jim! I checked it out and was delighted. I believe there are stretches of highway in Illinois where this is done, as well. I wonder whether towns might come on board, as well.


      1. It seems reasonable to me that a county board with jurisdiction over roads would have the ability to do this. They need to be convinced.

        In Iowa and Illinois, we have a plethora of roads dividing our rectangular farmsteads. Here is a table detailing.

        States vary by county or township jurisdiction. Iowa does it by county. Illinois by townships.

  2. Lady Bird Johnson influenced various jurisdictions to plant native species, but the fact remains that most Americans want manicured lawns, roadsides mowed down to practically nothing, and the same mass-produced nursery plants that everyone everywhere else has. Sad but true.

    1. You’re right. We even have to fight the guy with the mower who gets carried away along trails in our nature preserves!


  3. By the way, I’m glad to see someone else who likes an elongated format.

    1. Oh thanks!  I’m glad you mentioned that… my gallery was just telling me they would appreciate more long canvases.  They are dramatic, aren’t they?


  4. Yep, we are on it! Being both in psychology and in habitat restoration work, we deal with carbon sequestration education all the time. I think people are beginning to get it. Thanks for bringing it up.

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